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Cuba: time for patriotic pragmatism

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As it would bring an influx of unexpected cash into the markets, struggling U.S. farmers need the Cuban market.

As it would bring an influx of unexpected cash into the markets, struggling U.S. farmers need the Cuban market.

For that reason, U.S. agriculture interests should be pleased to know that 74 members of Cuba’s Civil Society — reportedly all Cuban-Americans advocating for democracy on the island nation — have sent a letter to Congress expressing support for H.R. 4645. This legislation, introduced earlier this year by Rep. Collin Peterson, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, would ease U.S. travel and trade restrictions with Cuba.

For more, see Bill would loosen Cuba trade embargo and Trade with Cuba: House debates and Easing Cuban embargo: pros/cons.

I know only a little about the letter-writing group but, at first glance, the June 9 missive is good news. A counterweight to the faction of the Cuban-American community vehemently opposed to such sanction-lifting is much needed. If our spineless Congress needs a group to hide behind in order to pass needed travel/trade reforms, maybe the Civil Society is it.

To see the full letter, visit Letter from Members of Cuba's Civil Society to the U.S. Congress.

Of all the self-defeating U.S. policies, our approach to Cuba is in the top handful. Advocates for Cuba sanctions have gotten their way for nearly 50 years and little has changed beyond black market Cohiba prices and a few more grey hairs in Castro’s beard.

If we’d stuck with the same arguments against normalizing trade with oppressive, despotic, human-rights-violating governments (and, yeah, I’m especially pointing at one-child-per-family-or-else China) who would be left to deal with? Under those criteria, I’m betting the list of potential trading partners would be shorter than the list of unacceptable bad boys.

So, it’s ridiculous when Iowa’s Rep. Steve King and his fellow defenders of current U.S./Cuba policy bray on and on about Cuba being a test of U.S. democracy, of our need to remain ideologically pure and morally steadfast.

The United States is great because it is a democracy, yes. But the United States is also great because — unlike so many unfortunate nations ruled by cretinous regimes — we have the set-up and capacity to abide by the rule of law and still be pragmatic.

And, at this point, we need pragmatism in a big way. Let’s just pass the Cuba sanction reforms, provide our farmers with an economic booster shot, and get on with it.

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